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Shepherd University establishes new chapter of wounded veteran kayak program

ISSUED: 10 April 2013
MEDIA CONTACT: Valerie Owens
(Shepherd University establishes new chapter of wounded veteran kayak program)

Shepherdstown, WV--Shepherd University, in partnership with the Martinsburg VA Medical Center, has established a Team River Runner (TRR) chapter to assist wounded veterans and their families find health, healing, and new challenges through an innovative water sports program.

Team River Runner is a non-profit, all-volunteer national organization that works in conjunction with the Wounded Warrior Project and Disabled Sports USA to help military personnel recover from war-related injuries through kayaking and other paddling sports.

"We really want the veterans to be able to focus on developing new strengths and new skills that support their healing and rehabilitation and to do it in the context of community supporters," said Tracy Seffers, registrar at Shepherd and chapter secretary.

A kick-off event for volunteers and the core support team is scheduled for Thursday, April 18 from 6 to 8 p.m. at the Shepherd Wellness Center pool.

Initially, TRR-Shepherd will serve up to five veterans through weekly training sessions in the pool Wednesday evenings from 6 to 8 p.m. and monthly outings in open water on the weekends. Training begins in May.

Seffers said Shepherd University makes an ideal site because of its indoor pool and the many surrounding water resources and paddle trails, as well as its commitment to community service. She said the chapter is a natural connection between the school and organization.

"Shepherd is connected to the community, and we want to support and develop the community that surrounds us," Seffers said. "It's why we educate our students, so they can go out and make a difference, and so we commit to making a difference while we're here."

The Department of Health, Physical Education, Recreation, and Sport at Shepherd and national TRR are providing kayaks and gear.

Seffers said kayaking or canoeing experience is helpful, but it is not necessary for volunteers. They will be needed to help load kayaks and gear, manage paperwork, accompany veterans in the water, organize open-water trips, and assist with marketing and fundraising.

"There are all kinds of opportunities for different skills," Seffers said. "Opportunities for additional training for new skills, including kayaking, will be available to volunteers as well."

In addition, though the national organization supports the chapter monetarily at the onset, in the future it will be self-sustaining through fundraising and donations.

Seffers is a kayaker herself and said she finds a feeling of competence while out on the water as well as camaraderie with her fellow paddlers.

"If we can connect rehabilitating veterans to the sense of being capable and self-sufficient and the sense that they are not alone, that they are in the midst of a community that supports them, we all win," she said.

For more information, contact Seffers at or 304-876-5463 or go to


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Tracy Seffers

Photo courtesy of Team River Runner

Photo courtesy of Team River Runner

Photo courtesy of Team River Runner

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